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Friday, September 19, 2014

Shelburne Craft School Donates Cassatt Pastels

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 3:53 PM

  • Courtesy of Shelburne Craft School
  • Mary Cassatt's pastels
At the risk of hoarding, here's a good reason to save stuff. The stuff, that is, of someone who is currently famous or is expected to become so:

This week Shelburne Craft School director Sage Tucker-Ketcham announced that some pastels, which had been sitting in a closet for years, were found to have once belonged to renowned American impressionist painter Mary Cassatt — and that the box of artist crayons have been acquired by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. 

How did this happen? A couple of years ago, SCS volunteer and teacher Barbara Nedde noticed in a book on Cassatt that she had given, in 1920, a box of pastels to then-10-year-old Electra Webb Bostwick, the daughter of Cassatt's good friend Electra Havemeyer Webb. (An exhibit this summer at the Shelburne Museum illustrated how that friendship led to the Webbs' acquaintance with and collection of European impressionist painters including Monet and Degas.) And the family's support of the arts extended not only to the museum but to the craft school, as well.

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In West Rutland, a Pnina Tornai Dress Is Sculpted in Marble

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 12:41 PM

  • Courtesy of the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center
For the past two months in West Rutland, the Carving Studio & Sculpure Center's artist-in-residence Alasdair Thomson has been at work on a stunning series of marble sculptures: dresses.

The Scottish-born, Italian-trained master sculptor says he's "exploring the way fabric hangs and folds," and is attempting "to capture that lightness and gracefulness in stone."

The articles of clothing in the series, called the Identity Collection, were donated by friends and family — and by a popular bridal designer and television personality, Pnina Tornai.

Even if you've never heard of her, you've probably seen one of Tornai's dresses. The Israeli designer makes regular appearances on TLC's reality TV show "Say Yes to the Dress" as the exclusive designer of Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, and her designs are frequently worn by celebrities and featured in fashion magazines. (In 2008, the New York Times summed up her style as "patently vixenish.")

Until the end of September, visitors to the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center can get a look at Thomson's sculpture of a Tornai dress. After that, it's headed to the Big Apple to be featured in the designer's runway show during New York International Bridal Week, according to Carving Studio executive director Carol Driscoll.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vermont Artist Drops 'Con Ed' Ball on Broadway

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 9:51 PM

"Con Ed Ball" by Lars-Erik Fisk - KEVIN J. KELLEY
  • Kevin J. Kelley
  • "Con Ed Ball" by Lars-Erik Fisk
An artist and a gallery director who got their starts in Burlington are now making a splash on Broadway — not in the Times Square theater district but on the mainly residential Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Lars-Erik Fisk, a native Vermonter and 1993 graduate of the University of Vermont, last week installed “Con Ed Ball” on Broadway's leafy median at its busy intersection with West 79th Street. Fisk's riff on Consolidated Edison, the New York City gas and electric utility, is one in a group of 10 public art works temporarily situated along a five-mile stretch of Broadway.

The pieces by 10 contemporary artists that make up the display were chosen by Pascal Spengemann, a former curator of the BCA Center (then called Firehouse Gallery) on the Church Street Marketplace. He collaborated with Max Levai, owner of Marlborough Chelsea, a Manhattan gallery where Spengemann works as director.

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Stephen Huneck's Dog Mountain Stars in National Geographic Book

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 4:22 PM

The Dog Chapel, built by Stephen Huneck - COURTESY OF DOG MOUNTAIN
  • Courtesy of Dog Mountain
  • The Dog Chapel, built by Stephen Huneck
Vermonters know that Dog Mountain, a 150-acre hillside in St. Johnsbury, is a lovely destination — even if you don't have a dog. Now, a new National Geographic book, The Dog Lover's Guide to Travel, lets everyone else in on the pooch-friendly place.

Dog Mountain is the creation of the late folk artist Stephen Huneck. It includes a gallery/gift shop with original and reproduction art, and a poignant Dog Chapel that has been visited by thousands of canine lovers since it was built in 2000.

Stephen and his wife, Gwen, both tragically took their own lives, in 2010 and 2013, respectively, but the place carries on with a dedicated staff and the oversight of Gwen's brother, Jonathan Ide. Pups and their people continue to flock to Dog Mountain's picnic events as well as volunteer Labor of Love clean-up days.

Left to sort out the financial matters — both Hunecks died intestate — Ide told Seven Days in a cover story last year that saving Dog Mountain "is the last thing I can do for my little sister. I want to make sure it gets done right, so Stephen and Gwen's legacy lives on," he added, "because this was their life's work."

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'NC Dances VT' Takes to Three Stages This Week

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 12:40 PM

"Tract" choreographed by Paul Besaw - COURTESY OF JEFF HERWOOD
  • Courtesy of Jeff Herwood
  • "Tract" choreographed by Paul Besaw
It's a small-world coincidence that the heads of two Vermont college dance programs got their starts in the same place: Christal Brown of Middlebury College and Paul Besaw of the University of Vermont both began their contemporary dance careers at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Though they studied at different times, they shared a teacher: acclaimed modern dancer and choreographer Jan Van Dyke.

This week, the three will unite on three stages in the Green Mountain State for "NC Dances VT." The evening-length performance features works choreographed by Besaw, Brown and Van Dyke. 

The show comes to Middlebury College tonight, September 18; to the University of Vermont on Friday, September 19; and to the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Studio in Montpelier on Saturday, September 20.

The UVM performance is sponsored by the Lane Series, marking the first time the Lane and the Department of Music and Dance have collaborated on a show. It's also the first time in more than 20 years that the Lane has presented dance. Director Natalie Neuert says more such partnerships are to come.

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The Vermont Historical Society Gets 'Lost in Space'

Posted By on Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 8:25 AM

Of course it's Vermont. Just look at all that plaid! - LOSTINSPACE.WIKIA.COM
  • Of course it's Vermont. Just look at all that plaid!
You won't find the small Vermont town of Hatfield Corners on any road atlas, or even in the most complete of gazetteers. You can't even get there by car. For that, you'll need a specialized gizmo ... from outer space.

Hatfield Corners exists only in "Return From Outer Space," a first-season episode of the classic mid-1960s TV show "Lost in Space." In it, Will Robinson discovers an alien device that somehow beams him back to his home planet, and the earthly spot where he lands just happens to be a fictional Vermont town. And, wouldn't you know it, the locals don't believe young Will's story that he's been alienistically transported there from somewhere beyond Alpha Centauri. Poor Will Robinson. Always in danger.

Attendees of the Vermont Historical Society's Annual Meeting and Fall Conference are encouraged to watch "Return From Outer Space" (it's streaming on Hulu), the better to appreciate public programs coordinator Amanda Gustin's talk, "Vermont vs. Hollywood: The Green Mountain State on Film." The talk will also feature other film and television clips that depict fictional versions of Vermont.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vermont Artist Alison Bechdel Receives a MacArthur Fellowship

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 10:03 AM

  • Courtesy of Elena Seibert
  • Alison Bechdel
They say good things come in threes, though perhaps only when a trio of good things does, in fact, occur in rapid succession. Whether or not the adage is true, that's exactly what's happened to Alison Bechdel this summer.

Thing One: a six-week artist residency in a 15th-century castle in rural Umbria, Italy. Thing Two: the news that Bechdel's musical Fun Home — which had a critically acclaimed run at New York City's Public Theater last year — is going to be produced on Broadway. And no sooner had she settled in at the castle than Thing Three happened: a call from the MacArthur Foundation telling Bechdel she'd won a fellowship. 

The coveted five-year grant comes with $625,000 and affords winners plenty of time to do ... whatever they want. Explains the MacArthur website: "The fellowship is designed to provide recipients with the flexibility to pursue their own artistic, intellectual, and professional activities in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements."

This is not an award one applies for; individuals are nominated and selected anonymously for a MacArthur. So to say Bechdel was surprised is an understatement. 

"I really felt like — it was almost like someone hit me, like a physical blow," she said in a phone call from Umbria, where she's about to finish up her residency. "First I get to come to this amazing place, then I find out about Fun Home, then I get the call about the MacArthur."

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Ciclovía Aims to Open Burlington Streets

Posted By on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 9:15 PM

  • Pooterjon |
A recent study by the department of transportation of Portland, Ore., suggested that about 7 percent of the population would commute by bike in almost any weather conditions; the two groups making up that 7 percent were dubbed in the study "The Strong and the Fearless" and "The Enthused and the Confident."

Far more numerous are the members of "The Interested But Concerned," a group defined by the fact that their concerns about bike safety outweigh their genuine interest in commuting on two wheels. This study [PDF link], already a landmark in municipal transportation circles, estimated that fully 60 percent of Portland's population fit into this category.

Jason Van Driesche figures that the cultural similarities between Portland and Burlington mean that the local percentage of "Interested But Concerned" is roughly similar to that in Portland. The newly founded Burlington chapter of the international "Open Streets" movement is targeting that 60 percent.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Four Young Lads From Liverpool Visit Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 8:58 AM


Call it mercenary, if you like, that all of the Beatles' albums have recently been reissuedagain — on the 50th anniversary of the band's first incursion into America. Some of us have purchased them several times over, perhaps even taking note of the improvements in sound quality. But, as many fans seem to agree, when the music on those albums is arguably still the best pop music ever recorded, it's a worthwhile investment.

The Beatles were more than a band, of course. They were an international phenomenon, and they left behind a remarkable legacy in other media, as well as music. Of their four fiction films, none is better than their debut, A Hard Day's Night, which has also been extensively restored for its 50th anniversary.

The new 4K digital restoration will play for one night only in Burlington, on Thursday, September 18, at the Main Street Landing Film House, presented by the Burlington Film Society and the Vermont International Film Foundation

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Public Art, a Quad and an Endowment Honor David Finney

Posted By on Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 4:30 PM

"Audeamus" by Chris Curtis - COURTESY OF STEPHEN MEASE
  • Courtesy of Stephen Mease
  • "Audeamus" by Chris Curtis
Winning a public-art commission is all too rare for most sculptors. Even rarer is getting a college quad named after you. Both those opportunities collided today — albeit were in the works for months — when Champlain College president emeritus David F. Finney was honored in a surprise (to him) ceremony at the newly renamed Finney Quad.

In addition, a $2 million Endowed Chair for the Future of Professional Education in his name was announced at the ceremony, a gathering of campus and community members and supporters, and led by new president Donald J. Laackman. Finney retired on June 30 after leading the college for nine years — a period that has seen tremendous growth, including the construction of student housing and other campus buildings, the development of new degree programs and, not least, the establishment of the Robert P. Stiller School of Business. For that last accomplishment, Finney secured the school's largest single gift ever. 

And the public art commission? That honor went to Stowe sculptor Chris Curtis, co-owner of West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park, for his steel-and-granite work titled "Audeamus." Aptly, the piece is installed in the center of the new quad on the Burlington campus at Maple and South Willard streets. Its Latin name is derived from the school's motto, and also honors Finney's "let us dare" spirit.

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